Technology Pulse: A roundup of digital news
Technology Pulse: A roundup of digital news
12 AUGUST 2015 7:44 AM
This month’s roundup of news from the technology sector includes: High-tech, high-touch define travel; OTA commissions burden hoteliers’ margins; and more.
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Survey: High-tech, high-touch define travel
A new survey from American Express Travel shows that future travelers want to tap into both high-tech and high-touch options to achieve the ultimate travel experience.
According to the survey, 93% of travelers said that despite digital advances in the travel industry, the value of personal service cannot be replaced. Additionally, 83% of millennials place a premium on personalization and are willing to have brands track their habits in exchange for a more bespoke experience.
Report: OTA commissions a burden on margins
A report from HVS says that while online travel agencies offer a number of advantages to hoteliers, including a wide, multi-national reach and big marketing budgets, the commission rates of anything from 15% up to 30% are a heavy burden on hotel profit margins.
Furthermore, a growing trend among OTAs is that many are launching their own loyalty programs, taking them into a head-to-head battle with hotel group loyalty schemes and threatening one of the unique selling points some hotel brands offer their customers, according to the report.
Authenticity key to online reputation management
The multiple platforms for hotel guests to leave comments, write reviews and air complaints online for all to read present challenges for hotel managers and brands, but they also provide opportunities, according to a report from HNN’s Bryan Wroten.
During the “Online, offline: Keeping your reputation intact” session on Day Two of the Hotel Data Conference, panelists discussed how they use online comments and reviews as a way to turn around a negative experience and explore new technology to better engage with guests and improve their stays.
Everything is more transparent now, said David Chu, VP of sales and marketing for Real Hospitality Group. It’s no longer possible to do something the wrong way and get away with it without someone saying something about it, he said. That can still work in hoteliers’ favor, he said, if they put their minds to doing something about it.
Study: OTAs continue to steal market share
Demand share is shifting in the booking funnel, with more and more revenue slipping between hoteliers’ fingertips, according to a recent report by HNN’s Patrick Mayock.
“It’s crazy. The world has changed. The question is: Now what? The real work begins,” said Rebecca Bucnis, Kalibri Labs’ executive VP and chief commercial officer, as she painted an ominous picture of the distribution landscape. 
Perhaps the boldest stroke on the canvas involves customer acquisition, which costs hoteliers between 15% and 25% of total guest-paid revenue. Each of those percentage points represents approximately $1.8 billion in costs, she said, citing preliminary findings from the 2016 edition of Kalibri’s “Distribution channel analysis.”
What’s up with mobile bookings
As mobile device adoption continues to skyrocket, challenges remain in providing a seamless hotel booking process via smartphone and tablet, according to a report from HNN’s Samantha Worgull.
In 2016, Phocuswright expects mobile’s share of total bookings to reach 16%, which is double the share of 8% in 2014. Voice (e.g. calls to the front desk or central reservations) is still the leading booking channel, although traffic has been declining steadily since 2005, according to Phocuswright. Digital channels, on the other hand, are growing fast. 
As it stands, the majority of mobile bookings are happening on OTAs. Why? They’ve innovated at a faster pace than hoteliers have. 
Tech changes underway at Wyndham
Following Wyndham Worldwide’s announcement at its brand conference of changes to its hotel group’s operations, the company is heavy into the implementation process, said Stephen Holmes, chairman and CEO of Wyndham, during the company’s second-quarter earnings call.
Up first? The company is tackling the problematic Wynguest system in favor of a third-party property management system and central reservations platform, as well as an automated revenue management tool, according to a report from HNN’s Samantha Worgull.
“We’re moving away from building in-house systems,” Holmes said. 
Red Lion to offer complimentary Wi-Fi
Red Lion Hotels Corporation will offer complimentary wireless Internet access to all visitors to its hotel lobbies, with a premium offer to members of its guest recognition program, Hello Rewards.
RLHC performed an extensive review of guest demand for bandwidth and is deploying a plan to offer improved lobby and guestroom technology with tiered access to wireless Internet, according to a news release. In public spaces, anyone will have complimentary limited access to wireless sufficient for connecting to a smartphone, tablet or notebook for checking email and Web browsing. In guestrooms, customers who are members of the RLHC guest recognition program, Hello Rewards, will receive complimentary premium Wi-Fi access. This same level of access will be available for purchase to guests who choose not to join Hello Rewards but require premium expanded access.
Compiled by Alicia Hoisington.

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